A Toxic Comedy

With humor, chutzpah and a piece of vinyl siding in hand, Daniel Gold & Judith Helfand's award-winning Blue Vinyl sets out in search of the truth about vinyl, America’s most popular plastic. Helfand's parents’ decision to “re-side” their house with this seemingly benign cure-all turns into a toxic odyssey that most ordinary homeowners would never dare to take. A detective story, an eco-activism doc and a rollicking comedy all rolled into one --- it’s a journey you can’t afford to miss.

**“Best Documentary” & “Best Research” Nominee, 2003 Emmy Awards**
**Documentary Excellence in Cinematography Award, Sundance Film Festival (2002)**
**2002 Environmental Messenger of the Year, Environmental Grantmakers Association**

"That rare muckraking film with a sense of humor." Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“Yes… The Green Building Movement may have just acquired its first cult film." Environmental Building News

“Scary and hilarious!” Elvis Mitchell, New York Times

Buckeye Sustainability Institute has arranged a screening of the film in Cleveland, Ohio on the evening of April 8th, 2004 at Case Western Reserve University. It's timing has never been more relevent.


Vinyl Toys and Medical Devices Declared Safe *Provinyl Propaganda Alert!!*

- A blue ribbon panel headed by former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop has declared that vinyl toys and medical products made with phthalate plasticizers are not harmful to children or adults. In fact, the panel found the use of plasticizers in some medical devices makes them safer than alternative materials. The panel, convened by the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), based its findings on a comprehensive review of all available scientific literature - including pending studies - on two additives, DINP and DEHP, used in toys and medical products to provide flexibility. While reassuring consumers that they can be confident that vinyl toys and medical devices are safe, Dr. Koop criticized consumer and environmental activists for waging a battle over the safety of well-tested chemicals. In a strongly worded column in The Wall Street Journal, Dr. Koop urged them instead to focus their attention on the "demons that lead us along the road to sickness and death," such as smoking, excessive drinking, drug use, accidents in the home, unprotected sex, poor nutrition and lack of exercise. "The enemy is not tiny amounts of chemicals that have proved safe over many years," he said. A summary of the report is available on the Vinyl Institute's Web site, www.vinyltoys.com.
EnVIronmental Briefs, August 1999

Weight of Science Continues to Support Vinyl Toys *provinyl propaganda alert*

- As Environmental Briefs was going to press, scientists were continuing to review available data on the potential health effects of phthalate plasticizers in soft vinyl toys. However, both the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and a European scientific group recently supported the continued safe use of phthalates in these toys. The CPSC report released in December refused some calls for a ban or recall on phthalate-containing toys, citing the lack of evidence of any imminent risk to children. "Few, if any, children are at risk from (phthalates) because the children don't ingest enough of the chemical to rise to a harmful level," said CPSC Commissioner Ann Brown. "In fact, it doesn't even come close." More information on this developing issue can be obtained at www.vinyltoys.com.
EnVIronmental Briefs, December 1998


Indoor Agents, Not Plasticizers, Linked to Asthma

- A new study by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies of Science discredits earlier claims that linked plasticizers in products like vinyl flooring and wallcovering to childhood asthma. Researchers found instead that cockroaches, cat dander and dust mites definitely make asthma worse, while other agents such as secondhand tobacco smoke aggravate symptoms in small children. They also found that exposure to dogs, mold and fungi and cold viruses exacerbate symptoms. Researchers placed plasticizers in the study's lowest category, saying they could find "inadequate or insufficient evidence" of a link. An earlier study had suggested a relationship between vinyl flooring and wallcovering and bronchial obstruction in children, but was criticized for not measuring exposure to other agents that are proven allergens, including those listed in this study. On the other hand, the research emphasizes that intensive cleaning may help alleviate asthma symptoms, suggesting a clear benefit to the use of vinyl flooring and wallcovering because they can be easily cleaned and do not trap dust and pet hair.
EnVIronmental Briefs, May 2000


Ohio EPA Police Blotter - Div. of Haz Waste reached a settlement with Kautex Inc.

Ohio EPA reached a settlement with Kautex Inc. for violations of
hazardous waste regulations and issued an administrative consent order
on March 3, 2004. The violations occurred at the company's facility
located at 474 South Nelson Avenue, Wilmington, Ohio. The settlement
includes a $77,550 civil penalty, of which $55,000 will be deposited
into the state's hazardous waste clean-up fund. In lieu of payment the
remaining $22,550 of the civil penalty settlement, Kautex will implement
a supplemental environmental project (SEP). You can view the consent
order on-line here

Thank you Eric Hendrickson. The above consent order link sends you to the
official notice of violation the company received. It reads as a good list of
things one ought not to do.


What Is My Definition of Sustainability?

I was asked the question recently and quite honestly I choked. Not because I don't know what it is or how to define it, but because I like bits and pieces of so many different definitions and I attempted to reconstruct my definition on the spot. So to answer the question more formerly rather than in the middle of a heated discourse, I present to
you all -> the components of my idea of sustainability.

At first I liked the following:

Sustainability (as defined by first by the World Commission on Environment and Development in 1987 and just recently adopted by the City of Seatle) -

"meeting the needs of today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

This definition seems to confirm the foundational idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology upon the environments ability to meet both present and future needs.

But as many people have pointed out, we choose the wrong word to build a
movement about. Or did we? Well maybe. Its debatable but here's the thing...
Take into account the movements current momentum, and I feel that
if all we want is sustainability were not aiming high enough.

The best way I can depict this is to relay an old analogy I have heard
over and over again over the years (so its impossible to give
credit where credit is due). It goes like this:

What about a marriage or long term relationship.... if all you want for
that is to be 'sustainable', many feel something is wrong with your
outlook (and your significant other will probably agree [I polled my
wife to confirm this and she agreed]) !!

So based on that analogy, we need a new word. Now people say "Beyond
Sustainability" a lot, and call 2 conferences in 2 years that also. But if 98% of the
universe cant even spell the word, should we build upon the term or deconstruct, put it aside
and aim towards a better term?

more later.... . . . . .

The G8 in Evian, France.

What's happening in Geneva - the "City of Peace?"

Thank you's go out to CM at BSI for the great photo essay linkages.